Please Help Our Boobless Bride Dawn And Her Family

If you followed Dawn’s Bride to Be ‘Boobless Bride’ Diary posts last year, you will know what an incredibly terrifying and heartbreaking journey she has been on.  You will have also read how her & Steve’s love story went viral and was seen online by millions.

Today, It is with a very heavy heart I write this post.

I’ve sat here for hours trying to find the right words but nothing seems to be working. The tears just roll.

My Cwtch Girls are like sisters to me, best friends, the bridesmaids I never had. The success of Cwtch The Bride has never been down to me. It’s these incredible women that work with me. We all ride this wave together. So when one of my Cwtch Girls are hurt, so am I.

Owen Mathias Photography

Owen Mathias Photography

Last week we were given some devastating news that left us all numb. We didn’t really know how to process it. We cried, we sat there speechless and felt utterly helpless. I wanted to scream and post angry statuses across the blog but I couldn’t find the words. We also needed to get Cwtchfest out of the way before we shared this.

Our brave and inspiring Boobless Bride Dawn had found a new lump. For anyone, finding a lump of any kind is scary. However, When you’ve already battled triple negative Breast Cancer, lost both breasts and survived… this lump brought with it a terrifying new fear.

Dawn let me feel the lump. It was small, about the size of a Cadbury mini egg (sorry… theres a bag of them on my desk and it’s the only thing I can see that’s similar in size). This lump isn’t going away either. It brought with it the devastating news that her cancer is back. Only this time, its worse….it’s incurable and doctors have told her she may only have two years left.

Please let that sink in for a moment. TWO YEARS!

Today, I’m asking for your help. I’m sharing Dawn & Steve’s beautiful wedding again which I had the honour of photographing. They haven’t even celebrated their first wedding anniversary yet.  I want you all to look at each and every photograph and think about how special every moment of this day is. The beauty of life is not seen in staged photographs, its in the everyday moments. The laughter, the tears, the things we don’t realise we take for granted. Our Time.

We all know a wedding day is special yet i’m now learning just how special EVERY day is. Every moment we get to share with loved ones is precious, we just don’t realise how much until we’re told our time is being taken away.

Dawn has two beautiful Daughters Imogen & Maddie whom I’ve gotten to know very well. What makes this all the more heartbreaking is that the girls father (Dawn’s ex), is in the advanced stages of Huntingtons Disease (a progressive brain disorder) and the children are facing the prospect of losing both parents before their teenage years. (This breaks my heart)

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Maria Farrelly Photography

How can we help?

Just Giving page has been set up for Dawn and her family. If there is one thing you could do for her right now, Its donate what you can to help fund some very special memories her children need to make with her right now. In the past week (thanks to donations),  Dawn has has already been able to start creating happy memories with her girls. The media are also following this story and helping to raise awareness. But we need to do more.

Dawn asked me to photograph her entire family together last saturday, it was something very important to her. She wanted me to create some fabulous images of her family together before her chemo starts and she loses her hair. (Damn that was so hard to write) I’ll be sharing the images very soon.

Helen from Do you Believe invited Dawn & Imogen into the boutique to try on some wedding dresses. A special moment every daughter cherishes with their mother.

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We are planning to organise something very special for Dawn and are asking all our readers and fabulous wedding businesses to come forward and work with us on this. If you’d like to get involved please email us directly here and don’t forget to donate

PLEASE HELP US TO HELP DAWN x

Many thanks,

Maria x 

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Real Weddings: Our Boobless Bride Dawn, and Steve’s Perfect Day

Maria Farrelly got to witness their day, and capture it, makes it even more wonderful.

What was your budget? 

We need to keep the costs as low as possible as I have been off work for over 18 months.  But realistically I think it came in at around £7,000.

How would you describe your wedding theme?

As you already know I have been battling breast cancer for almost 2 years now. In August 2015 I was awaiting very serious scan results to see if the cancer had spread.  A terminal diagnosis would have overshadowed any future plans, I had always wanted to take the children to Disney so thought – right now, I am not terminally ill so would embrace the opportunity to have a carefree time with my girls.  So, with one of my closest friends Marie and her daughter Isabella in tow, we headed off to Euro Disney. Although it should have been the most frightening time of my life, somehow I barely thought of the scan results.  The magic of Disney completely consumed us and we had the best time. One of the days we were there, the children were playing in the Alice and Wonderland Maze.  I can remember feeling so full of love, hope and determination – after all I have so much to live for.  So, when Steve proposed to me it just seemed absolutely right for the theme to be Alice in Wonderland. Not only was it such a positive memory for me with the children, it married well with my love of vintage clothes and big Petticoats!

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What was your favourite part of your wedding?

I know this is going to sound ridiculously cheesy but for me the best part of the wedding was having all of my loved ones and friends with us to celebrate not only the wedding but getting through the previous 18 months.  It felt like both families really united and all our friends came together to have one hell of a party.  The band were incredible… everyone danced the whole night long.

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However, there were two moments that were particularly special for me on the day…

I organised a balloon release in memory of my father.  All guests had a balloon with a label on saying a guests name, the details of the wedding and an email address to tell us how far the balloon had travelled. All of my friends and loved ones gathered on the golf course, each holding a different coloured balloon in memory of his name. Instead of crying I stood proud and watched every balloon slowly float to the clouds – hoping that my dad would see them pass by. Unknown to me at the time, the guests were eagerly trying to find out who had their balloon and it acted as an ice breaker and became their favourite part too.  I would never have dreamed when I planned this part of the wedding that it would become the most special part for me. Each balloon symbolised hope, love and freedom.  It was not sinister or morbid, it was a happy moment with my father close in my thoughts and resulted in one of my favourite photos of the day.

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The second moment that was particularly special to me was captured by Maria.  Steve was saving for a VW Camper before he met me, I kind of ruined his plans.  Instead of a vehicle symbolic of freedom and carefree life, he bought an engagement ring and wedding symbolic of restriction and responsibility.  So I decided, I wouldn’t have a stuffy wedding car.  I would hire a vintage VW camper.  So I started ringing around and all of the companies I spoke to quoted over £600 to simply pick me up and take me to the first venue.  So then I discovered ‘Split the Difference’.  A couple who manage a company that hire out VW Campervans.  For the same money I could hire the camper…for a week!!!!  Bosh!!!!  Wedding car and honeymoon sorted in one go.  So… mad you may think, the day before the wedding.  Beth and I (my Maid of Honour) set off from Newport to Wrexham to collect ‘Jessie’ our beautiful camper.  A very slow and long journey home was worth every second when I saw Steve’s face when we came out of the ceremony.  It was sheer delight.  A magical moment.

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Tell us about your Wedding Dress

Choosing a wedding dress was always going to be a difficult part of the wedding planning for me. When I met Steve I was a size 12, long legs, beautiful hair (extensions cough cough) and excuse me for being crude but as Steve said “a great rack”. But here I was newly engaged, a size 20, completely bald – not even an eyelash and no breasts. I thought it would be impossible to find anything that I would feel beautiful in. But my sister-in-law was fantastic she came to shop after shop in a bid to find this miraculous dress that in essence would replicate the powers of the Harry Potter invisibility cloak. You know… make me feel thin, attractive and sexy – all the things I did not. I came out of every bridal shop feeling exactly the same; deflated, insecure and reluctant to continue looking. Then Beth reminded me of how wonderful Helen at Do you believe? in Newport had been when she married my brother. So we headed to Helen in a bid to find a wedding dress like no other.

Immediately Helen made me believe that not only could we find a beautiful dress but one that would meet my very obscure specification. Tea length dress with a vintage feel that would nip in at the waist, have a high neck to hide my prosthetics and sleeves that would enable me to cover my arms as the Lymphedema swelling is very unpredictable…. oh and more importantly would go with my beautiful blue petticoat that I bought at the vintage Fair in Cardiff.  Helen didn’t feel that she had anything that match this criteria, however this was not going to stop Helen giving me that bridal moment. Together we designed my dress – a completely bespoke dress. We chose the style together, the lace, the embellishment and I simply knew that she would give me a beautiful dress.Dawn_Steve_Wedding (25 of 964) Dawn_Steve_Wedding (27 of 964) Dawn_Steve_Wedding (31 of 964) Dawn_Steve_Wedding (33 of 964)
Everything was going beautifully and as with all perfectly laid plans we hit a problem. Where I’ve had the mastectomy fat pockets collect in the most bizarre and unusual of places so imagine my surprise when I have my final fitting and discover my body has miraculously started to grow its own breasts!!!! On my bloody back!!! That’s right – my dress is done up and from the front I look beautiful… but…I turn around and there hanging over the back of my dress are what can only be described as two of the biggest boobs I have ever seen made from back fat. So as you can imagine the meltdown began. Helen with the help of Val at House of Couture in Maindee set about hiding my new assets.  They removed the cap sleeves, found a lace bolero and added embellishment to the edge of my dress to match.  Before I knew it I was feeling more confident again. I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t wish I was a size 10 with long flowing hair a beautiful waistline and an ample bosom, but with all things considered I felt as beautiful as I ever could have felt on the day and that was all thanks to Helen going above and beyond what was required of her. I was absolutely delighted when Helen agreed to be a guest at the wedding because truly I went into her bridal shop a customer and came out a dear friend.

Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?

Picking the bridesmaids was probably one of the most difficult tasks for me when it came to the wedding.  How could you choose a select few when so many had been wonderful to me over the years.  One thing that I did know, I wanted my sister-in-law Beth to be my Maid of Honour, she has become more like a sister to me over recent years and would keep me calm on the day.  But how do I chose the bridesmaids?  There’s Cath – the bestie that went all through school with me and shared many a night on MD 20/20 with me in Caerleon? Boon -who went all through college with me, can make me laugh in any situation and is yet to have a boyfriend with an actual name!?  Pirate!? ASDA!? Millionaire Guy?!  No idea what any of them were actually called… go figure. Jodie – who was there when I had a complete melt down and stayed sober enough to make sure my antics came back to bite me in the bum. Emma – my partner in crime on school trips who is my rock when it comes to the children or Lindsay who swam across the river Thames with me after a drunken night as it looks like a shortcut. I mean how can you choose from such a high calibre of Friends lol? Simple really…. I asked them all!!!  Now don’t get me wrong there could have been so many more as so many of my friends have been an incredible support over the years but most of them were married and it made sense that they could sit in the congregation with their husbands. So that what it… my 6 Single Sisters would be asked to be my bridesmaids.

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Now for the flower girls…well we’ve got three children between us Imogen, Madeleine and Yvie and I couldn’t leave out Ngaire and Isabella who are like daughters to me, so the bridal party doubled in size. I know what you’re thinking… more people are going to walk down the aisle than be seated but that’s a luxury of it being MY wedding… I can do just as I please – so I did.

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As for the best man it was a simple choice for Steve.  He asked his lifelong friend and advisor Mike.  Mike was given the job of embarrassing Steve and boy did he do a brilliant job of that. He provided one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard –  and he tucked me up beautifully by quoting some of my face book posts during our time together.  All based around food which poo poo’d my theory that the weight gain was solely down to steroids during treatment.  Damn him lol.

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Why did you choose your venue?

The Venue for us was very easy. When I was going through treatment we would go to Bellevue Park in Newport a couple of times a week to feed the squirrels. It was just about all I could manage but it was a beautiful location, the children absolutely loved finding squirrels and we enjoyed amazing food and drinks in the cafe. We became good friends with Matt and his team at Parc Pantry and new immediately this would be where the ceremony will be held.

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When we started to put invites together it was quite apparent that congregation was going to be too big to fit in this venue for the whole day so looked for an evening venue. We Struck Gold when we found Tredegar Park Golf Club.  Not only were the grounds absolutely breath-taking, but Neil and Kim were absolutely exceptional from start to finish. Although they had never done it before, they accommodated an afternoon tea as the wedding breakfast and purchased vintage crockery to make the tables look authentic.  The food was plentiful, cakes as fresh as if they had just come out of a bakery and the hog roast was a massive hit. The function room is beautiful, big windows overlooking the course and exposed beams giving a wonderful ambience and we even got to sit with Neil for an hour at the end of the night and share what a wonderful time we had. I cannot recommend both venues more highly – they truly made it a magical day.

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Tell us about your photographer

I’ve been very fortunate when planning my wedding, things just seemed to fall into place.  Not only was I able to enjoy all the girlie aspects of planning it, but I actually met a number people that have gone on to be really good friends. None more so than your very own Cwtch Queen, Maria Farrelly.  When a friend of mine Amy recommended I entered the competition to join Cwtch The Bride as a ‘Bride to Be’ contributor, I never dreamt that I would not only win, but meet an incredible group of women. I found in Maria a kindred spirit, we instantly hit it off and I found writing the blogs not only purposeful but therapeutic. When Maria when I started talking more we realised we had a lot in common and although women follow cwtch from all areas in Wales, we actually lived very close to each other… so we met up and have grown closer friends ever since.

At this point I did have a photographer booked but fate stepped in and my photographer called to explain they had been double booked. Immediately I got in touch with Maria in hope that she may be available. Maria had very few dates available so it was looking unlikely that this would be an option, however I truly believe it was just meant to be as she was indeed available on the 28th of May. Without even looking at any of her photographs of portfolio I booked her. I am a people person and knew instantly I wanted her involved in the day and trusted that she would give us the most beautiful photos.  More importantly she understood my body confidence issues and could help me work through that on the day – and I wasn’t disappointed. She made us feel relaxed and was the professional throughout.  At no point did it feel staged or uncomfortable – in fact at some point I don’t even remember her being there.  She disappeared into the shadows and captured every moment beautifully.  The only thing I regret is that because she was so busy working on the day she was unable to really celebrate with me.  She is a dear friend of mine now and I would have liked her to have been there as a guest.

How did the proposal happen? 

Well, unknown to me, Steve has tried on 4 different occasions to propose, but because I had just had the all clear and the kids were off school – I kept bringing the girls along to our ‘date day’ – oops.  So eventually Stephen put his foot down – “I haven’t had a day on my own with you since your ‘all clear’ so we need some ‘us’ time.  I agreed, and we decided to celebrate by climbing pen-y-fan, it would be symbolic of the journey we have climbed.  True Welsh style, it hammered down with rain. Someone got struck by lightning up there during the last storm so we both agreed that I have danced with the devil lately as it is so this would be stupid.  So instead we would head to Neath Waterfalls.  8 Miles we walked – 4 waterfalls later and a beautiful day had by all.  Soaked through we went back to the car, changed into dry clothes and went into a little hikers pub.  We had a beautiful meal and I said – as if setting the moment “this is a beautiful pub, warm, lovely and full of character – if I ever get married again I’m going to take up hiking to shift the weight” with that he said – best start walking then and put a little black box – not the type that find aeroplanes – this is the one that finds tears, immediately.  Tears rolling down my cheek he asked if I would marry him – of course I said yes.

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But this is not the real story of the proposal – the real story is how I ruined the intended proposal.  Picture this – beautiful waterfall, full as it was raining so heavily, no one around, beautiful sounds of wildlife active in the storm…I’m stood on a little bridge gazing into the waterfall.  Steve walks to me, puts his arm around me (in his head this is the moment) – “Dawn” Steve said… “Yes babes” I said…. then before he could say another word I interrupt him – I’m known for it, I’m an excitable person – to advise him that I would like to head back to the car soon as I’m that wet my pants are soaking and its chaffing my arse.  NOOOOOOO!!!!! Moment killed…so that was the end of the beautiful waterfall proposal.  Oops.  But to be honest, it makes the whole ordeal more ‘me-like’.

Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?

For me the little touches in a wedding are what makes it special. So I spent hours making little bits and pieces that would make the difference on the table. I ordered off eBay bags of little brass keys and painstakingly tied luggage labels to them for name cards that would complement the theme. I also wrapped all the cutlery in beautiful little Ribbons embroidered with mine and Steve’s name and the date of the wedding.

One of my bridesmaids Lindsay also made beautiful favours for me which really added to the impact of the Alice and Wonderland theme.  Little mini eggs in jars with ‘eat me’ labels and small shot bottles with ‘drink me’ – everyone commented on how beautiful they were.

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I designed vintage themed name labels and used Microsoft Excel to mail merge them so that they could be printed on mass in a few minutes.  Ladies – MAIL MERGE IS THE WAY FORWARD – it saved me hours, was the best thing I did. Finally, the centrepieces I made myself by simply collecting old vintage books from car boot sales and tying them in hessian and lace. I couldn’t have been happier with my tables and my boss was so impressed he tried to convince me that there was a career in wedding planning for me!!!

What was your first dance & why?

When Stephen I first started getting serious it was a standing joke that he wouldn’t say he loved me – just that he tolerated me more than anyone else he had ever met.  This went on to him saying he would write his own vows as he could not commit to ‘til death us do part’ as he had no way of knowing what the future held.  (Of course this is all bants)  But it seemed only fitting to have a song that was special for us bad had the underlying tone of sarcasm that Steve is renowned for. So there was only really one choice it had to be Beach Boys, God Only Knows – Steve was a keen Surfer in his youth and I genuinely would not have got through the relentless treatment and surgery without him, so I really don’t know what I would be without him. Plus the first line said ‘I may not always love you’ anyone that knows Stephen would find this funny. So we both started the first dance, awkwardly swaying back and forth singing to each other at top pelt ‘I MAY NOT ALWAYS LOVE YOU and sobbing by the ‘God only knows what I’d be without you’ line… but found the children surrounding us in a circle – never one to miss an opportunity I pulled the kids into our dance and our romantic moment became the ‘Okey Kokey’.  It was amazing.

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In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?

In hindsight the only thing that I would have done differently was not wait so long to get married (although 9 months sounds a short engagement in our situation we should have seized the day). We waited until May hoping that my father would have overcome his treatment for leukaemia, little did we know that by waiting that few extra months, my father would not be there.  And that truly breaks my heart.

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Do you have any advice for future couples?

The best bit of advice I can give to future couples is…don’t get so pulled into the obsessive perfectionism of the day and lose the significance of why you are there in the first place.  Enjoy every second the day will be over in a flash.  Stephen and I had a good 90 minutes to leisurely have photos taken, but we were in our own golf buggy travelling across the golf course which gave us time to enjoy the moment together before the ‘mingling’ and ‘drinking’ began.   We were completely loved up in that moment. I think every bride and groom should time at least an hour alone – not surrounded by photographers and caterers and bridesmaids but the two of you alone in love – time to … just be.

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What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received?

I’m not sure this is a piece of marriage advice but it is my mantra – the way I keep positive and happy… with a little Dawnism thrown in for good measure.
Live every moment – Don’t waste time arguing, say your piece and move on.
Laugh everyday – Get pleasure in those little moments (I recommend Alphabet dating)
Love beyond words – Don’t assume they know, tell them every day.
And dance like nobody’s watching – Don’t worry what other people think… dance together in the rain!

What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?

The best part for me about planning the wedding was meeting so many amazing people along the way. Although I went to them as a client I genuinely felt I met friends – I have already mentioned so many but there was Molly – the lead singer of The Supers.  They were an incredible band that got everyone dancing, completely adjusted their running order to fit around the beautiful weather and played like their life depended on it.  Lucy and the Girls that had 11x hair and makeup to do in one morning…what an accomplishment and great fun. Pat and Paul who let us use Jessie and made the most beautiful bouquet as decoration inside, Neil at AJC Cardiff who designed and created the most beautiful engagement and wedding ring, Elisa who designed the table plan, Hilary at Hilarys flowers who produced the most beautiful Top Table pieces using cake stands… too many to name everyone but thank you all the same.  I just seemed to experience such kindness and generosity – One lady on ebay for example… I sent her a picture from Pinterest of a setting I was trying to recreate…she went to the length of folding about 30 different napkins in the exact way I showed her, with cutlery, photographed them and sent the pics to me so I could see what went best with the crockery I had.  It must have taken her hours… all because she wanted to do her bit to make my day special.  It’s completely restored my faith in humanity because it’s easy to only remember the idiots that plague your day.

The Suppliers

Photographer:  Maria Farrelly
Ceremony Venue: Belle Vue Parc, Newport (Parc Pantry)
Reception Venue: Tredegar Park Golf Club
Bride’s Dress:  Helen’s own Label, Do You Believe?
Bride’s Shoes: Elegant Steps
Bride’s Headpiece:  Val, House of Couture
Bride’s Jewellery:  A locket my dad gave my mum
Groom’s Outfit: Slaters
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: True Bride
Bridesmaid’s Accessories: Etsy
Cake: Emma Baker, The Retro Cake Company
Flowers:  Hilary’s Flowers
Hair: Beautilicious – Lucy
Make Up: Beautilicious – Lucy
Band: The Supers, Bristol
Stationery: Elisa by Design
Any Reception Decor/Props: Forever Bows
Transport: Split the Difference
Other:  MASSIVE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO MADE OUR DAY SO SPECIAL

The Wedding Album

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Real Weddings: Lauren and Paul by Jessica O’Shaughnessy

Happy Friday one and all!

We have such a pretty wedding for you today, and all done beautifully on a £10,000 budget! This in itself is a miracle, but its so gorgeous as well.

I will hand over to Lauren and Paul, to tell us all about their big day, which was captured beautiful by Jessica O’Shaughnessy

Real Weddings Banner

Lauren and Paul

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What was your budget?

Our budget was £10,000.

How would you describe your wedding theme?

I would describe our wedding theme as vintage folk with just a hint of rock and roll.

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What was your favourite part of your wedding?

Lauren: My favourite part of the wedding was asking our guest to sing ‘Wouldn’t it be nice’ by the Beach Boys as part of the service. As we were having a civil ceremony we decided to incorporate an element of a traditional church wedding (singing the hymns) in a non-religious way. We wanted our guest to feel actively engaged with the ceremony and we also wanted them to stay on their toes.

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Paul: My favourite part of the wedding was the speeches. We took a non-traditional approach and encourage the best men and the bridesmaids to get involved. Rachael (Lauren’s sister) a long with the other bridesmaids (Hollie, Sophie and Freya) sang an edited rendition of ‘Crashed the wedding’ by Busted (one if Lauren’s favourite bands). They edited the words, printed scrolls for all of the guests and invited everyone to sing-a-long) it was absolutely hilarious.

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They definitely set the tone for the speeches and all of the pressure was then on the ‘Adequate Men’. As I had 3 best men each of them took responsibility for telling different stories from different points in my life. The speeches included pictures (which all of the guests had a copy of) and a little toy pony called Jeff (who had been an integral part f the stag do). I must also mention Lauren’s Dad, Craig, who opened proceedings and did an amazing job of both embarrassing the bride with funny stories and expressing his pride about the lovely young woman she has become.Lauren&Paul81

Tell us about your Wedding Dress

The hunt for the perfect wedding dress began early in 2015. My Mum, Sister and I decided on one Saturday morning that we would go into Chester and try some dresses on in some of the Bridal shops. I was the first one of my close friends to get married and so had no idea about protocol.  As a result it some became apparent that just turning up and asking to try dresses on wasn’t the way things were done. One shop allowed me to try on a couple of dresses however I was advised that they only stocked sizes 8-10 and therefore none of the dresses were going to fit me properly. The whole experience was very unpleasant as I left feeling fat and uncomfortable. I already had a very clear picture in my mind of what sort of dress I wanted but this would prove very difficult to find. In wasn’t until the summer of 2015 that we tried again. I had discovered a discount Bridal store in Newcastle upon Tyne (which is where Paul and I live). My Mum, Sister and Nan came to stay for the weekend and we visited the store. The staff were amazing, they had hundreds of dresses in different styles and sizes. This experience I really enjoyed. On that day I tried on 4 dresses, I knew instantly that I had found ‘the one’. We bought it then and there. In the months that followed I tried on 3 other wedding dresses as I wanted to be sure that I had made the right decision. I had. No other dress even compared.

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Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?

Lauren: My family are really close and I am lucky enough to have cousins who are like sisters to me. I choose my sister Rachael and my cousins Hollie, Sophie and Freya to be my bridesmaids. I also choose my younger cousin Isobel to be our flower girl. They looked beautiful and did an amazing job of keeping me calm and getting me drunk before the ceremony.

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Paul: I decided not to have one best man and instead had ‘The three adequate men’. Matt, my brother and Will and Blandy two of my best friends were in charge of best men duties and they did an outstanding job-from planning and facilitating my two stag do’s to delivering their speeches. I couldn’t have asked for more.

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Why did you choose your venue?

We wanted the wedding to be as informal as possible. We talked about the fact that we wanted the wedding to reflect the freedom that we felt at festivals or when we went away camping with our friends. Listening to music we loved, drinking and talking into the early hours. We didn’t want to be constrained by formalities. We also wanted the venue to be stunning and unforgettable.

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Tower Hill Barns ticked all of these boxes. We booked our wedding when the refurbishment was still happening but we knew from the plans that it was exactly what we wanted. The setting, the buildings, the gardens and the staff were amazing. It really was the dream wedding.

Tell us about your photographer

I found Jessica by chance. I had been searching for photographers over Christmas and happened to come across her website. I had a very specific image in my head of what our wedding photographs should look like. I hated the idea of forced pictures with fake smiles and formal compositions. When I saw Jessica’s work I knew she was the one. Her images are so informal, they capture moments of reality. You can see from the images that when people are smiling it’s because they are happy and having a good time. She was outstanding. She added so much to our day and she has created images that truly depict our personalities and exemplify the emotions of the day. She was so professional but also a friend. When I was unsure about what was happening or where people should be, she took that pressure away from me, reassuring us that everything was as it should be. I can’t thank Jessica enough for the role she played that day or for the amazing moments she captured.

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How did the proposal happen? 

Originally Paul is from Cumbria and as a result we have spent a lot of time in the Lake District. We had planned to go back for the weekend with some of our friends for a get together. On the journey over I had asked to use Paul’s phone as my battery had died and he was very sketchy about handing it to me, this started alarm bells ringing and I honestly thought the worst ‘there is someone else’.

When we arrived at Paul’s Mum and Dad’s house all was calm. We spent the evening with our friends and usually this would result in a very late night and a horrible hangover the next morning. As 1am approached Paul suggested that we should get some sleep, this was very out of character. The next morning we woke up and got ready to go for a walk with our friends. They had gone home to get ready and this seemed to be taking them a very long time. They finally returned at about 12.30pm and we set off to Lake Ullswater for a walk.

We pottered around the Lake, threw some stones and dipped our feet into the water. As I was walking back the shore I turned to see my friends had formed a horse shoe around Paul who had got down on one knee. He pulled the ring from his pocket and asked ‘will you marry me?’. He may have also said something else before the words came out but I honestly can’t remember, it is all a blur. I covered my face and started to cry and asked ‘are you joking’? He laughed and replied no. I of course said yes. We popped a bottle of champagne and enjoyed ghe moment with our best friends. I began trying to call my Mum and my Sister. There was no answer. Paul pacified me and said we would go home, get changed and head into town for some celebration drinks, he also reassured me that I could keep trying to ring them for as long as it took.

As we pulled into the drive of Paul’s Mum and Dad’s all seemed calm as we had left it. Paul took my hand and walked me through the house out into the garden, I could smell smoke. As we turned the corner music began to play, I look down the garden and there was my entire family, who had driven up from the Chester in the morning, all of our friends, a BBQ and a gazebo set up in the garden. Paul had organised a surprise engagement party. I cried as my Dad hugged me. Paul hadn’t wanted me to use his phone as he had been texting my Mum and Sister organising the party.
The engagement party set the tone for the wedding. We knew that we wanted the wedding day to reflect the laid back and fun atmosphere he had created on that day. People still ask Paul ‘what would you have done if she had said no’ and his answer is always ‘I knew she would say yes’.

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Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?

Buy a decent printer and make your own invitations-this saved us a fortune. Everything was done on publisher and all you have to do is download different font styles and images from the internet. I was really proud of our invitations.
We did the same with our seating plan, I mocked it up on publisher and then we sent it to be printed on canvass. I really liked having creative control and again it was so simple to do.

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My mum spent a year buying crystal vases from charity shops for our table decorations. we filled each of them with gypsophila. Each of the vases was slightly different and this added to there charm.

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We bought all of the decorations ourselves and on the morning of the wedding my Mum conducted a team of happy helpers to decorate the venue. We couldn’t have done it without her.
My favourite decoration was a guitar which my Mum re-designed. She painted and added the lyrics to one of our favourite songs-this was a surprise for Paul on the day. All of these little touches really make the difference and made the day ours.

What was your first dance & why?

We spent months deciding on our first dance. Both Paul and I are really into music, it has been a very significant part of our relationship. We selected songs that had meant something to us throughout our relationship and rated them out of 10. Then one evening we discovered a cover of ‘Don’t let me down’ originally by the Beatles, but beautifully remastered by one of our favourite artists Paolo Nutini. We knew this was the one. It felt significant that this was a new song in our relationship and would forever only be associated with our first dance. We kept it a secret until the day and it was absolutely perfect.
As a homage to the other songs that we had wanted, we incorporated them into our vows, selecting specific parts and re-writing them into our own words.

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In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?

The only thing we would have done differently is hiring a live band. This would have been more in-keeping with theme and would have added another element of fun. But this is a minor detail for us as the DJ was absolutely fantastic.

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Do you have any advice for future couples?

Be really fussy about you DJ. I spent months searching for a DJ who would be willing to only play songs that we suggested. We asked our guests to choose 5 songs that they would like to hear and we also created our own wedding playlist. As I already mentioned music is a very big part of our relationship and we wanted the music played to reflect who we are as people and not be the standard wedding tunes. The DJ was amazing, they got just the right mix of soul, rock and roll and Indie tunes.

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What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received?

It will be exactly the same as it was before. It is. Nothing changes, you wake up in the morning and bask in the idea that you have engaged in a traditional rite of passage that means that you are now part of a club in society with millions of other people. But how you feel about each other and who you are doesn’t change. That’s the most amazing thing about it, you have this incredible day which celebrates your love for each other and everyone who is important in your life, but then you just go back to your normal life, with a ring on your finger and memories that you will cherish for a life time.

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What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?

I adored planning the wedding. There are so many parts of the planning process that I loved: finding the venue, thinking of the theme and seeing it all come to life, creating the invitations, planning the table dressings with my Mum, coming up with the playlist, designing my cake with Jan which was absolutely beautiful. All of those things add to the excitement and contribute to the build up. At no point did I feel pressured or stressed because we had so much support from everyone around us. I love the fact that everyone played a part in making our wedding perfect, it was a team effort and that truly reflects our relationship with our families and friends.

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The Suppliers

Photographer: Jessica O’Shaughnessy
Ceremony Venue: Tower Hill Barns 
Reception Venue: Tower Hill Barns
Bride’s Dress: WED2B 
Bride’s Shoes: Aliexpress 
Bride’s Headpiece: A Day to Remember 
Groom’s Outfit: Slaters 
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Debenhams 
Cake: Too Good To Eat Wedding Cakes 
Flowers: Flowers by Gaynor 
Hair: Laura O’Callaghan 
Make Up: Laura O’Callaghan 
DJ: Big Boss Man 

The Wedding Album

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Real Weddings: Our Graceful Bride, Vicky Marries Rob

Happy Friday Cwtchers!

Excited to show you all our gorgeous Real Wedding this week.  Not only is it beautiful, with stunning images by David Wickham, but its of our one and only Graceful Bride.

If you have been following her blog entries, then you know about everything that went into making this day so wonderful! And its not just about the shoes (although they are, of course, pretty spectacular!)

Without further ado, I shall hand over to the beautiful Victoria, to tell you all about her and Robs big day……

Real Weddings Banner

Victoria and Rob

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What was your budget?

We had an initial budget of £20,000 with £18,000 being joint money and then a £2,000 budget of my money for my dress. I figured no one could tell me off for spending too much money on the dress and shoes if it was my own! We still managed to go over budget in the end though!

How would you describe your wedding theme?

I have these great ideas in my head which I’m then useless at explaining to people so I think that Wendy our florist was the only person to get my theme in the planning stages!

I was describing it as relaxed country elegance. I wanted everyone to just be chilled out and enjoy themselves. A church wedding but not too traditional, a country house for the reception but not too formal, everything had it own meaning. My aim was it to look like it was effortless, that the house was ours almost and we’d just used whatever was around to decorate with flowers cut from the garden that morning.

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Trouble is once you start saying to people about centrepieces with books and teapots everyone automatically thinks a vintage theme which wasn’t quite my aim! I hope people got it in the end, or at least a feel for what I was going for. Maybe I should have walked around saying relaxed country elegance a lot more!!

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Colour wise we decided to stay away from the traditional Autumn colours and go slightly different. Rob wanted to wear a navy suit and the hints of blush just seemed a perfect compliment to it.

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What was your favourite part of your wedding?

I’m not sure I can pick just one part! Our wedding turned into a bit of a 4 day extravaganza and I loved it all.

We had a great few days beforehand with various golf, afternoon tea and dinners out and the Friday with my family setting everything up at the venue was just great fun. On the day itself we had such a relaxed morning getting ready and then walked to the church to try and stay calm!

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I don’t remember any finer points of the ceremony, only that we probably laughed too much and that atmosphere carried on for the rest of the day.

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If I was really pushed then one of the best bits for me was walking down the driveway to the church. The sun was shining, the mist had lifted over the mountains and I could hear the choir singing as we got closer. It was beautiful and I had no nerves going in to marry Rob after that!

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Tell us about your Wedding Dress

With me living in Essex, my Mum in Wales, one bridesmaid in Kent doing a PhD and the other working it Hertfordshire it was always going to be a bit of a mission to organise dress shopping.

In the end we managed to get everyone free for a run of 3 days and we crammed 5 dress shops in. I was really worried about how finding a dress would go, I’m tall and have curves and had no real idea of what would work on me. By the end of it all though I was beginning to think I was in the wrong job with all the consultants going nuts over getting to dress someone of my height and shape.

They put so many extra dresses on me that they wanted to see that I was so confused with what one to get! We found my actual dress in our second shop. Anna, the owner, was so brilliant and we’d been there for about 3 hours going through all her stunning dresses. Again it was a dress I hadn’t picked but towards the end of the appointment she said it was my dress and I had to try it on. We realised we were on to winner as all of us spent the first few moments in silence and Mum teared up (given we mostly giggle and mess around this was a huge difference).

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We still did all the other dress shops and came close to falling for another dress which was virtually the complete opposite (another you must try this one for me from the consultant) but after a week of thinking about it, it was the same one that kept coming back into my head. Turned out Anna had been right from the start!

Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?

I had no choice on my bridesmaids! About a week after my cousins met Rob I was being nagged into marrying him so they could be bridesmaids as they’d not been before! I don’t think I even officially asked them, unless you count letting them know we were engaged by sending them a picture of an awful 80’s style dress and threatening to put them in it! They were great though and put up with me texting random wedding things virtually weekly.

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Robs best man was his boss Paul. He may be his boss but he’s also his best friend, cricket captain and sort of big brother figure I suppose. Robs known him since he was a teenager and I swear they spend more time talking to each other than they do to me and Pauls partner Ann!

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Him and the ushers were also brilliant, especially as I left them all a huge list of things they needed to do on the day and they got on it with no complaint taking away any niggling stresses from us.

Why did you choose your venue?

In my head I had another venue that was perfect so only booked to look at some others for comparison. I’m so glad I did though as I had such a clash with the owner of where I wanted that I came away vowing never to set foot there ever again!

Peterstone Court on the other hand was just brilliant from start to finish. Not only is the house beautiful and the views just stunning, the staff really made it.

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Nothing felt like too much trouble for them, phone calls and emails were answered quickly and they always knew who you were on the phone to have a chat with. Absolutely everyone from the managers to the waiting staff were just lovely. Plus if I could kidnap the chef I would, we’ve never had a bad meal there and we’ve had a few now! Having taken over the place for the whole weekend we really did feel like the place was ours, I would so recommend it for anyone looking for a venue.

Tell us about your photographer

I got slightly obsessed with David our photographer, in a good way though, not a creepy one!

I don’t remember how I stumbled across his website but I’m so glad I did! Not only are his pictures beautiful, he really understood what we wanted with regards to the photos. I was slightly worried that him and his colleague Catherine wouldn’t come back after we all spent the church rehearsal in fits of laughter but they just went with it and joined in!

On the day itself David was great up with us whilst we were getting ready while Catherine got some lovely shots of all the stuff I was missing out on. For the rest of the afternoon I can honestly say I felt like I didn’t see them, in the nicest way possible of course! The pictures we got back I felt really captured the fun and relaxed vibe of the day, there’s some truly stunning ones of all our guests just enjoying themselves and I just love them all!

How did the proposal happen? 

I knew we’d get married as we’d spoken about it a lot and half my family had bets on when a proposal would happen yet he still managed to surprise us all by proposing on a random Saturday night. In a wonderfully romantic setting (ha!) of him in pyjamas after a bath, me in a blanket freezing cold and our collie in a panic after one of his episodes where he’d bashed his head on a radiator and was bleeding, he said he’d got me a gift. Sitting down I was given a Tiffany bag and did the obvious thing which was to start giggling! In my head I was thinking “oh my god he’s gonna propose, but then he said a gift so maybe it’s a bracelet, but who gets a bracelet from Tiffany after talking marriage” etc etc. I’m not even 100% sure if he got down on one knee or if I actually said the word yes, I just kept laughing!

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Luckily he knows me well enough to not get hurt by that reaction!! I think he’d been planning on being slightly more extravagant in his proposal but he’d text my Dad to sort of ask permission (think the gist of it was I’d like to ask Vicky to marry me, thought I’d see if that’s ok but I’m doing it even if you say no. I think Dad was pleased with that!) and after getting a nice text back from my Dad, who is a man of few words, he just decided to do it there and then!

Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?

Rob is great at making things, he’s transformed our garage into a full on man cave complete with bar! Me on the other hand, I have zero patience and if it’s not done to a perfect standard within 30 minutes then I’m just done with it, so we didn’t do a vast amount of DIY!

I am quite proud of our scrabble name places though, again, mostly made by Rob. Trying to keep the cost down we just bought some scrabble letter tiles from craft stores online and then made the rest. Rob made the holders from 2 different types of wood and then I did all the gluing.

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Rob also did a fair bit of printing, he made the table plan, order of service booklets and created personalised menu and information cards! My only other contribution to the DIY side of things was asking/forcing my family into making up the confetti cones and favour bags! They looked like they didn’t mind though!!

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What was your first dance & why?

Our first dance was Home by Michael Bublé as the lyrics mean a huge amount to us. Having spent 15 months living in Paris with Rob still in the UK and the constant feeling of wanting to be somewhere I wasn’t, the song kind of became our anthemn.

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I could never play it right through to the end until the day I left France! To lighten everything up we had Shut Up And Dance by Walk The Moon straight afterwards.

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I love that song and figured jumping around surrounded by people was a good antidote to the fear of dancing on our own getting emotional!

In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?

The only thing that we felt really let us down was our band. I thought I’d been clear enough with the list of songs that we definitely wanted played in the live sets and the sort of music for the DJ sets. However they seemed to think differently and it did ruin our evening slightly. They were so talented and having seen them before we thought would be perfect for our guests so my only advice to couples having a band is really reiterate to them your choices. Given that we’d been talking about Metallica, Foo Fighters etc, to have Mike Posner played instead really got me wound up!

Do you have any advice for future couples?

Probably the same advice that everyone else gives! It’s your day so do things your way, don’t try and please everyone else as it’ll never work, you really can’t do it. The day does just go so try and take a moment to be just the 2 of you to have a breather, whether that’s with a photographer tailing you for some shots or just in another room having a quick sit down for 5 minutes!

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What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received?

I don’t think we had any specific marriage advice. Both of our parents have been together a long time, as has most of our families so we’ve had plenty of examples of marriages over the years. Plus we’d been together a while, dealt with a long distance relationship, house buying and loss of a parent before we got to the wedding so we’d weathered a lot of storms! We knew what worked for us and always make sure we communicate, especially as with our jobs we can go days without seeing each other awake to have a proper conversation!

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What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?

Now I love planning but planning a wedding over 18 months even took it out of me! Attempting that, work and life in general is hard! I suppose though my favourite bit was getting to see people more. We’d normally only get to Wales once or twice a year yet I was going virtually every month and my parents were having to come to Essex more often, same with getting to see my cousins more frequently. I’m sure they were all bored beyond belief having to listen to me going on and on but I enjoyed it! Also I loved dress shopping, I really wish I could do it again but then we’d probably end up having to renew our vows yearly as I’d keep buying them

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The Suppliers

Photographer: David Wickham 
Ceremony Venue: Llanhamlach Church
Reception Venue: Peterstone Court 
Bride’s Dress: Essense of Australia 
Bride’s Shoes: Harriet Wilde  Christian Louboutin
Bride’s Jewellery: Ivory & Co  Tiffany 
Groom’s Outfit: Anthony Formal Wear 
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Monsoon uk 
Bridesmaid’s Accessories: Wanderlust Life 
Cake: Family friend
Flowers: Wendy Scotford  Friend of Faux
Hair: Lisa Bidwell 
Make Up: Alex Gallop 
Band: The Hot Shots 
Stationery: On the day – Rob, invites etc by Pretty Lane Weddings 
Caterers: Petersone Court 
Any Reception Decor/Props: Own various
Personalised cake topper: Feats Of Clay
Wedding favours: Blaenavon Cheddar Co  Wilkin & Sons Tiptree Chutney
Ushers ties: Mrs Bow Tie
Choir: Brecon Male Voice Choir
Confetti: Adamapple
Honeymoon: Destinology 

The Wedding Album

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Real Wedding: Nicola and Alex by Richard Savage #SaveNicola

Happy Friday everyone!

We have a bit of a different real wedding of you this week.  We’re not talking about what she wore, where they held the wedding, who provided the flowers.  Not that any of those things are wonderful, but today we want you to meet Nicola.

#SaveNicola

In 2015, Nicola proudly walked down the aisle to the man of her dreams, Alex and father of her two beautiful children.  Full of hope and promise after fighting cancer for many years, and due to a severe case of septicaemia, Nicola had to have an above the knee amputation in 2011.

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A few months after the wedding Nicola found out that her cancer had returned, this time Doctor’s have diagnosed the cancer as terminal, giving her just 2 years left to live.  Nicola’s treatment options on the NHS have now come to an end.  Nicola’s family and friends are now trying to raise £75,000 for Nicola to receive proton beam therapy abroad to help prolong Nicola’s life (this therapy is not yet available in the UK).

Richard Savage, who shot Nicola‘s wedding, will be donating £25 from every wedding booking we receive this month to the #SaveNicola fund.

We’re asking if you have any amount of money available, no matter how big or small that you could donate to the #SaveNicola  fund, then please do.  Every donation will help Nicola to reach her target!

Nicola is a Mum, a Wife, a Daughter, a Sister and a Friend – Nicola is awesome, and doesn’t deserve to be taken from all the people that love her too soon, please help if you can xXx

DONATE HERE – www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/savenicola

FOLLOW – https://www.facebook.com/savenicola.co.uk/

READ MORE – You can read more about Nicola’s story here and watch recent ITV interviews with Nicola and her family.

www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/mum-diagnosed-bone-cancer-teenager-12460750

www.itv.com/news/wales/2017-01-27/llanelli-mum-nicola-white-is-desperately-campaigning-to-fund-proton-beam-therapy/

http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/world-cancer-day

Lets help Nicola to reach her target…

The Wedding Album

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Real Weddings: Jenny and Mike by Carly Turner

Good morning and happy Friday!

We have a superb wedding for you today! Images by the gorgeously talented and Lush Lister, Carly Turner, Jenny and Mike’s wedding looked amazing! Including a pink dress, gold belt and taxidermy mice!!

I will hand over to Jenny though to tell you more about this beautiful day….

Real Weddings Banner

Jenny and Mike

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What was your budget?

Not as much as we spent on the honeymoon ;)

How would you describe your wedding theme?

It was us themed!

When we were planning our wedding we didn’t have a theme in mind, we just went for things that we liked. Thankfully it all came together and looked amazing!

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What was your favourite part of your wedding?

I have so many favourite parts!

One of the things that struck me the most was just how amazing it feels to have all of the people you love in one room together.

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The ceremony has got to be my most favourite part, closely followed by the food and speeches!

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Tell us about your Wedding Dress

I knew choosing a dress was going to be difficult for me. I didn’t want to wear a wedding dress, I didn’t want to wear white and the thought of spending hundreds on a dress, for me, seemed wasteful.

I visited a few shops and wedding fairs on the look out for a dress but I didn’t find anything I loved.

I bought a vintage dress a few months after we got engaged, it was a nude, beaded, full length gown, I loved it at the time. However, I tried it on a few months before our wedding, I had lost some weight so it didn’t fit and it just didn’t feel like me anymore. Cue major panic!

Luckily I came across my dress on ASOS when I was sale shopping one day and instantly knew that was the dress I wanted to get in married in! I loved the blush pink colour and delicate detail of the embroidered flowers and I felt like a Queen in it!

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Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?

For me, picking my bridesmaid was easy! I chose my cousin Holly. We grew up together and were inseparable when we were younger. She’s been my best friend my whole life – plus she’s super creative and throws awesome parties!

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Why did you choose your venue?

It was completely by chance! Adam from Llwyn Hall had posted a Facebook advert and as we were on our way to Llanelli to visit family anyway we thought we’d pop by to check it out.

We loved it instantly! It was quirky, charming and served amazing food. We loved that we could have the venue all for ourselves and our guests.

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New owners took over the venue a month before our wedding and started renovations immediately – it was really stressful!! – but thankfully it turned out great, the renovations were beautiful, and Alex the new owner was so lovely and helpful!

Tell us about your photographer

Our photographer was Carly from Carly Turner Photography.
She was awesome – we found her through Facebook and loved her style, it was exactly what we were looking for! We met Carly for a coffee and clicked with her immediately!

Carly did an amazing engagement shoot for us! We were a bit nervous but she made us feel relaxed and we had loads of fun! We used some of the pictures in our wedding stationery.

Carly Turner COTW (Jen and Mike)

On the day she was incredible, a real photography ninja, catching amazing moments and fantastic photos. We really couldn’t be happier with the pictures and we feel so lucky to have had Carly as our photographer!

How did the proposal happen? 

We were on holiday in Krakow when Mike proposed to me.

We’d been out for an amazing meal followed by cocktails in the rooftop lounge in the Sheraton. On our way back to our apartment, as we were walking past the fire breathing dragon outside the Wawel castle, Mike asked me to be his wife. I don’t think he’d even finished asking the question before I said yes!

Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?

We DIY-ed loads for our wedding, and I am so grateful for our army of family and friends that spent the weeks running up to our wedding crafting, brewing and tying twine on everything!

We made our centrepieces from beer bottles we’d collected from different countries, we made our own table runners from some hessian we bought off eBay, my aunty made limoncello (or Manda’s Marvellous Medicine as it was labelled) for favours and instead of place cards we handmade Christmas decorations with our guests names on them!

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Mike is a Graphic Designer so he created all of our beautiful wedding stationery, including our wedding logo! All of family and friends loved them so he’s now starting his own wedding stationery business!

Making our decorations meant that our wedding was really personal and represented us as a couple and all the things we love!

What was your first dance & why?

Our song is 2Bears – Church but it isn’t a great first dance song! So we chose an acoustic version of Beyonce – Crazy in Love by Daniela Andrade.

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In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?

Probably held off the alcohol a little… We had very sore heads for the next few days.

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Do you have any advice for future couples?

Remember that your wedding day is a celebration of your love and the commitment you’re making to each other – don’t stress about the other stuff.

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Glow sticks! Forget about hiring entertainment, just buy glow sticks for your guests. They provided hours of entertainment, as you’ll see by the pictures!!

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What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received?

We made some cards for the tables that asked people to write some marriage advice for us. We got some really funny responses but our favourites had to be;
– Keep going as you are
– Make sure the curry is always hot and the beer is always cold
– Don’t know LOL I’m just a kid (from Zac, aged 11)

and a surprising amount of them said, Remember Jenny is always right.

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What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?

All the extra time you spend with family and friends :) We had loads of afternoons spent crafting, drinking tea and eating cake.

The Suppliers

Photographer: Carly Turner Photography
Ceremony Venue: Llwyn Hall Country House 
Reception Venue: Llwyn Hall Country House
Bride’s Dress: ASOS 
Bride’s Shoes: Borrowed from my mum!
Bride’s Headpiece: Sixpenny Bride
Groom’s Outfit: Formal Hire  
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Lindy Bop 
Bridesmaid’s Accessories: Vintage
Cake: Wally’s Delicatessen 
Flowers: Ruth Milton Jones 
Hair: Signature Style 
Make Up: Makeup by Nicola 
Stationery: Design Yo! Wedding Stationery 
Caterers: Signature Catering

The Wedding Album

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